How to Plan the Perfect Wedding
So you’re starting out on the big adventure of planning your wedding. No matter how many times you tell yourself you’re not going to get stressed out about it, there will be times when you’ll be fit to burst and think nothing is going right. Unless you really don’t care about your big day, you will find it stressful but the good news is those times will be few and far between. Overall, planning a wedding is something you will enjoy once you can avoid a few of the pitfalls.
So what can go wrong, after all it’s just a party: for a couple of hundred people and you’re organising the venue, and the food, and the entertainment, and the dresses for the bridesmaids, and the cars to get people to the church and then to the reception, and the flowers to decorate the church, and a photographer to capture the magic moments, and makeup to make everyone looks great. Oh yeah, and the dress, don’t forget the dress. Simples. Well it actually is, if you just avoid some of the pitfalls that can crop up.
First of all you’re not really organising it all on your own. You’ve got a partner who’s entering into this 50-50 relationship but you’ve probably noticed his eyes glazing over when you mention centrepieces, wedding favours, colour co-ordination and doves; so in reality he’s not going to be much help. The trick is to find out what he’s interested in doing and let him at it. I know it might seem like he’s getting off scott free and just has to turn up and look good on the day, but you’ll have a lot less stress if you can let him organise the things he’s good at and will enjoy doing, while you concentrate on the serious stuff yourself. You’ve got the rest of your life to train him in, and during the wedding preparations probably isn’t the time to start. Having said that, you might have one of those rare diamonds who plunges head first into the preparations and is really enthused. If so hold on to him.
Then there’s your bridesmaids. These girls will be your real partners in the preparation and they’ll be your go to people to help share the burden. Just remember that while your every waking moment might be concentrated on the wedding preps, they have a life away from your wedding; so pretend you’re interested in what they’re doing every now and then. Seriously, keeping the girls involved, and happy to be involved, will make life so much easier for you. The most important people who can help make or break your wedding though are the suppliers you’ll be dealing with. Most of these people you will not have had any dealings with and will be approaching for the first time. I don’t know about you but I had never booked a band before I started planning my wedding nor a photographer or a chauffeur. Getting the right supplier will make your life so much easier. So how do you know they are reliable and will not rip you off?
There is a feeling about that the wedding industry is a bit of a rip off; that once a vendor hears it’s a wedding they put the price up. I saw on one forum a bride-to-be telling people to pretend it was just a party they were booking with the venue rather than a wedding; “after all, that’s what it is”, she said. The chances are the venue might cop on when you turn up in a white dress holding a bouquet and covered in confetti and at that stage, not only is the venue not decorated for a wedding and the amount of staff on hand will be less, there is a bond of trust that has been broken between you and your supplier.
While there might well be some rip off merchants out there, the truth of the matter is that the price for a wedding, in many instances, will be different than for a normal event. This reflects the extra work involved. Take the make-up for instance. Your wedding day makeup will be applied early in the morning and will have to withstand a few tears in the church and on the way, not to mention a few hundred hugs and kisses from friends and relatives, yet still look perfect under the glare of the photographer – with his 200 million gigapixel camera which would capture a hair on a fly at 200 metres – and still be looking good as you’re singing a song in the residents bar at 3am. Money well spent I think you’ll agree. This said, you still need to pick carefully and do some trials with a few makeup artists.
One of the best ways of getting a reliable supplier is a recommendation from someone you trust. Some of your friends and family will have had a wedding recently and they’d be the first people to chat to about who they used, what they were like, and would they use them again. They’ll also let you know what little mistakes they made, what they’d do differently and who really helped them out.
When you’ve exhausted this mine of information, you’ll probably start Googling wedding singers and wedding photographers. This will throw up a myriad of results and the temptation is to think that the first three on the list are the best in the business and have been around for years. Be careful though, they might just be the best at digital marketing rather than the best wedding photographers.
Wedding Fairs are a good place to see suppliers as you get to talk to people face to face and for some of these people, the photographer for example, you’ll be spending a lot of time with them on the day and you need to feel comfortable with them.
Flicking though magazines is a good way of seeking out reliable wedding vendors. If you’ve seen people advertising in magazines it’s probably a good sign that they have been around for a while, and intend to be around for a lot longer, as magazine advertising isn’t cheap. It shows they are serious about the business and are in it for the long haul not just a quick buck. Setting up a website and a facebook page with a little social media marketing is a very inexpensive way of getting an online profile but doesn’t mean much after that.
A vendor supplying the wrong item or getting a colour wrong is a real pain in the bottom but when a vendor lets you down totally on the day, it’s very hard to recover from that. This is why it’s so important to pick a supplier with a good track record. Once you have narrowed down your list of suppliers check if there are any professional bodies for that profession like the Irish Professional Photographers Association. While being a member of an association like this doesn’t give you much protection if something goes wrong, being a member of a professional body is just another indicator that the supplier is professional and unlikely to let you down.
When you’re about to give over a big deposit, it is always advisable to get a written contract stating exactly what you are expecting of the supplier. Don’t be shy about asking for a contract as any reputable supplier should be more than willing to sign a contract as it protects them as well as you. You should always give deposits in the form of a credit or debit card as this offers an extra layer of protection. Check with your credit card company what their policies are regarding the issue as most have very good “Charge Back“ facilities and terms which gives you automatic protection at no extra cost. Wedding insurance is a good idea too as it’s not expensive but, as always with insurance companies, be very clear what it covers and what it doesn’t and check that excess too. If it’s too high it can make the policy pretty useless.
For the bigger items it might be worth while doing a little check on the vendor to see if they have any court judgements against them. There are companies out there who do this and it’s not expensive.
When you do find a good wedding supplier that you are happy with use them as much as you can. These people work on weddings every day of the week and have seen it all. They’ll give you more information about weddings than surfing the net for years. A photographer will help you herd and coral the guests and the band will be able help you pick the set to keep the floor packed. Don’t just ask them about their profession, a good makeup artist will help you with timing on the day of the wedding and give you tips about everything from keeping the flowers fresh to getting stains out of dresses (perish the thought). If you talk to your wedding vendors about any potential pitfalls they’ll be only too willing to share, after all, it’s in their interests that the day goes well an you’re going to be another happy bride recommending their service to your friends and relations.
It’s important to remember that if things do not turn out quiet as you had planned, don’t panic. Have a read through Emma and Eamon’s Real Wedding Feature. Their wedding band cancelled the night before the wedding and it rained on the big day, but both hiccups actually improved the day.
Oh. One other bit of advice, DON’T BUY your wedding dress online: Not if it is important to you. Sure we’ve heard of brides buying a million dollar dress for half nothing too; but we’ve heard far more horror stories of brides with dresses that fall apart at the seams, dresses that arrive too big, too small, the wrong colour, the wrong material, and then those that just don’t arrive at all.
Bottom line is if you’re prepared for all pitfalls you’ll avoid them all.